“What’s funny about the primaries is that so much attention is given to these relatively small states where the people get to meet every candidate and ultimately are sick of them,” says Robert Smigel as we chat via webcam (watch above) about his appearance as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog on Hulu’s “Triumph’s Election Special 2016.” As he explains, “I thought it would be funny to go somewhere Triumph could get easy access to the candidates, and yet I managed to be avoided by many of them at the same time.”
Smigel reveals, “I went into this whole thing because of Donald Trump. A lot of people have been making comparisons between Trump and insult comics.” To that end, “Triumph coaches Mike Huckabee on how to be a better debater, to be meaner, to say horrible things. It was amusing to see what Mike Huckabee was willing to saying and what he wasn’t. He was shockingly game.”
Triumph has been a comedic voice in television for almost two decades, debuting on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” back in 1997. Smigel notes, “the reason the insult comedy goes down a little easier is because it’s not a human. People are being insulted by this ridiculous thing. He’s like the Shakespearian fool.” And, he adds, “because he’s so low status he can say anything about anybody and nobody’s really offended.”
But, he is quick to point out, “the low status continues beyond the puppet and out of his ass when you follow the arm to this face and this guy’s on his knees the whole time avoiding the shot. It’s fairly degrading for me too. People don’t feel that bad to be insulted by this.”
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